• Beware Trivial Inconveniences [LessWrong] – This is a nice post about how The Great Firewall of China works by making it a little inconvenient and time-consuming to view subversive sites, thereby discouraging casual exploration. Even though it’s easy to bypass it with little technical knowledge or instructions, most people don’t do it. There are many more situations where it’s easy to discourage people from doing certain things simply by making them slightly inconvenient.

  • The Hidden Economics of Porn [The Atlantic] – Some very intriguing insights about the porn industy by a gender-studies professor. The porn industry is really BIG, many big-name sites are owned by a single company (MindGeek) and contain pirated content. It’s also very interesting to know that porn preferences of people are shaped by the keywords they use, which only reflect some stereotyped categories (that are often sexist, racist, or narrow-minded). Overall, the article contains several questions that ought to be asked about our relationship to porn and our consumption of it.

  • I am Alex St. John鈥檚 Daughter, and He is Wrong About Women in Tech [Medium] – A fitting reply to the misogynistic and regressive views publicly peddled by Alex St. John, by his own daughter Amilia. It’s a well-written response that details her own experiences and why her father’s views are misguided.

The Pulitzer prizes were announced at the end of the month, and I’d been meaning to catch up on a couple of interesting articles that won. I could only do one so far.

  • The Really Big One [The New Yorker] – This is a great piece of journalism, describing how the Pacific Northwest is due for a MAJOR earthquake. This is not one of your regular doomsday articles – it goes through a great deal of background (made understandable for the non-expert) and history behind the tectonic activity in the region. It also describes how poorly equipped the region really is to deal with the consequences, and how things will go down if this earthquake hits in the next few years.

Then there were other nice articles that came up in my various feeds

  • Shields Down [randsinrepose] – Job resignations don’t happen when you decide you’re doing it. They happen when a certain event or situation leads you to lower your shields and consider the possibility of an alternative future.

  • Bored People Quit [randsinrepose] – A post for engineering managers to detect boredom in their teams, and how to deal with it.

  • The Other Side of Diversity [Medium] – An old article by the awesome Erica Baker describing her experience with how diversity in the workplace is also about helping marginalized groups build communities for themselves.

Movies and TV Shows

  • Black Mirror – It’s a British TV anthology series that features speculative fiction with dark and satirical themes examining modern society, especially wrt the unanticipated consequences of new technologies. I started watching this month, and have liked it a lot.


  • I attended my first Anoushka Shankar concert this month. Despite not having been a huge fan of her music in the past, I fell in love with the performance and the music. Perhaps my tastes are changing now. Music was from her new Land of Gold album. Especially look out for the Secret Heart, Land to Nowhere, and Dissolving Boundaries tracks. The album is inspired by the pain and frustration of the recent refugee crisis, and reflects both anger and hope.

  • Apart from that, Abhinav introduced me to a couple of cool Coke Studio (Season 8) songs.

Umair Jaswal and Quratulain Balouch are amazing singers, and I particularly adore the flute and violins in this one.

This one is all about Ali Zafar. I always thought he was a good performer, but his vocal range and swagger are stunning.

For both the above, the videos are worth watching too!

  • Yet another source of new music was Bolly 92.3 FM, Bay Area’s new Bollywood-only radio channel! I can’t describe how glad I am to have this, even though a lot of modern Bollywood music is very forgettable.

  • Ali Zafar again 馃挏馃挏馃挏 alongside Sara Haider, with this rendition of a beautiful song from 1963 sung by Saleem Raza. I’ve been sadder than usual this month, but listening to this song helped.

  • I’ve also been letting Soundcloud just play suggested music in the background, and discovered some interesting stuff as a result.

James Blunt’s “Your Beautiful” translated to Punjabi, pretty cool!

I discovered this acapella version of Strings’ “Mera Bichra Yaar” two weeks ago, but found it again and really loved it.

So far these suggestions have been 馃憣馃憦 and I’ve just kept the tab open as an anytime go-to radio.


  • Slither is an online multiplayer snake game, with 400-600 players on a board at any point of time. It’s wildly addictive, and has been my second-most visited site behind Twitter.

  • Better Than Small Talk was an experimental event I attended this month, where the focus was to create an atmosphere that encouraged people to quickly dive into deep conversations. It was interesting, and I’ve written more about it here.

  • I started learning about online security and encryption, and wrote a couple of blog posts about it (this and this).

  • Camlistore – From the website, “Camlistore is a set of open source formats, protocols, and software for modeling, storing, searching, sharing and synchronizing data in the post-PC era. Data may be files or objects, tweets or 5TB videos, and you can access it via a phone, browser or FUSE filesystem.”. I’ve been worrying about backing up my data for a while, especially with the amount of trust I currently need to have in Google or other third-party tools. I’ll be following Camlistore closely.

  • Saving links to Google Inbox – Google recently announced a Chrome extension for saving links directly into Inbox, and they get bundled too! This is an amazing feature since I did often use Inbox to do the same. Pocket has serious competition! This also works on the phone app, although I didn’t see bundling there.

  • I subscribed to Model View Culture and hope to keep in touch with some extremely thought-provoking writings there. It describes itself as a magazine about technology, culture and diversity. Highly recommended!

- nRT